Fiberglass pools are not new, in fact these types of pools have been around for nearly 50 years. Fiberglass pools are one piece, factory built shells made with fiberglass, resins, and finished with a gel coating, a non-porous surface similar to modern day boats and pool slides.
Fiberglass pools are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes with various tile patterns, fiber optic lighting, and in-floor cleaning systems, possible. Some forms of maintenance like acid washing, resurfacing, and liner replacements don’t exist with with fiberglass pools, but proper weekly chemical and cleaning maintenance are still needed to protect the gelcoat finish.
Fiberglass Pool Installation Procedure:
You or your dealer will mark the site for the new Fiberglass pool. You should think about sun exposure, access to a bathroom, areas for guest to gather (and to retreat from the afternoon sun), and access to the site. In general, people will gather on the side closest to the house at the shallow end of the pool. Pour your deck accordingly. Once the outline of the pool is marked with chalk or spray paint you are ready to dig the hole.
The next step will be to dig the hole according to the fiberglass pool’s dig specs. This step will take 3 – 6 hours and varies in complexity with the size and shape of the pool. Sport Pools with flat bottoms are the easiest to dig. Deep well pools are more difficult. The key to a good hole is to measure frequently. You will use a builders level (transit) to measure as you go. Today, laser levels can be rented, that take the guesswork out of measurement. Once the hole is complete, string will be used to set the exact grade for the pool. This string will act as a guide when you line the hole with sand or gravel
The Fiberglass pool will arrive on a truck at your home, ready to install. Now is this is where the real fun begins! The pool will be lifted off of the truck using a boom truck or, in the case of smaller pools, the trackhoe itself. You or your dealer will now need to level the pool to less than an inch. This can become a little monotonous for a first time installer. Raise that end up, now this end is too low, you get the drill. You should get this done in well under the typical 3 hour minimum for the crane. The water will seek its own level once the pool is filled. For this reason, you need to pay close attention now.
Ok, it is now time to plumb the Fiberglass pool and ready it for back-filling the hole around it. You or your dealer will drill two to four 2 in. holes for the returns, and optional light or automatic cleaner. If you ever plan on installing an automatic cleaner, go ahead and plumb for it now. It can always be added later. Plumbing is as simple as gluing any PVC pipe. Connect the pool and power to the filter for both the electrical and plumbing.. This can take 3 – 5 hours.
You will also start filling the Fiberglass pool. Each pool has a level to which it can be filled with water with no backfill around it. If you use a fire hydrant or a water truck, filling is fast. The water must remain about 12″ higher than the surrounding backfill. This helps maintain the shape of the pool. See an Image Example of Step 5.
Rough grade is easily done with the right tools. You can either rent a small Bobcat with a landscape box, or hire someone to prepare your yard. In either case, you will want to be sure that the pool is at a local high point in the yard. Be sure that all of the ground around your Fiberglass pool slopes away from the pool. Typically you want 2″ – 6″ of rise at the pool edge, relative to the surrounding area. This allows rain water to drain away from the pool.
There are two options for pouring the deck: standard and cantilever. In a standard deck, the concrete come up to the edge of the Fiberglass pool, leaving an exposed band of fiberglass around the pool. In the cantilever deck, the concrete is poured up to and over the edge of the pool. When combined with tile, this is a very striking finish. There are many other choices: stamped concrete, slate, rock, washed aggregate, brick pavers, cool deck, and the list goes on….
One final note before we wrap up. It is often better to wait a few weeks before actually pouring the pool deck. The reason is that the area around the Fiberglass pool will settle over time. This is highly variable due to various soil conditions, rain levels, and backfill material. During that wait, your pool is completely ready to swim.
Other Important Fiberglass Pool Considerations….
Do Not Drain Your Pool!!!!!! Your fiberglass pool is designed to remain full of water at all times. If the pool is drained without proper directions, hydrostatic or ground pressure outside the pool could cause the structure to buckle or crack. All damage to the pool shell resulting from improper pool drainage is the owners responsibility.
If it becomes necessary to drain the pool, contact your fiberglass pool installer or the the fiberglass pool manufacturer.
For best operation, keep the water level in the center of the rectangular skimmer plate on the pool wall. Low water level may cause the circulating pump to loose prime resulting in pump damage, high water level reduces or eliminates the skimmer effectiveness.
Pool Surface Care
The “bathtub” ring which forms on the pool wall or tile caused by body oils, suntan lotions and air borne contaminants can easily be removed with swimming pool tile cleaner or other non abrasive commercial tile or vinyl cleaners. Do not use abrasive cleaners, steel wool, metal scrapers, brushes or tools as these may cause permanent damage to the gel coat finish. Dulled gel coat above the water line may be restored with a heavy cut automotive polishing compound either power or hand applied followed by a coat of wax. The gel-coat finish of your fiberglass pool can be scratched like any other gloss surface. The gelcoat is seven to eight times thicker than a normal coat of paint so it is not likely that scratches will be more than superficial